Protesters place poster at the Parliament in Prishtina saying: “MPs don’t have a mandate to violate our bodies”, February 29, 2024. Photo: Verone Zymberi/BIRN

Kosovo Activists Protest MPs Blocking Assisted Fertilization Law

Activists protested on Thursday in Prishtina against MPs objecting to a new law on reproductive health and medically assisted fertilization, accusing them of hate speech and discrimination against women.

The Kosovo-based activist collective Marshojme, S’festojme (We march, we don’t celebrate) protested on Thursday in front of the parliament in Prishtina against MPs who have objected to a draft law on Reproductive Health and Medically Assisted Fertilization.

Blenda Asllani, one of the organisers of the protest, told the media that discussions about the law had been “dehumanizing towards Kosovo women … conveyed with propaganda and lies by MPs, for patriarchal and electoral purposes”.

Asllani said the protest aimed at debunking claims of MPs Eman Rrahmani, Duda Balje, Albena Reshitaj and Visar Korenica among others, because “they lied to the public that this law destroys the family and enables incest”.

Protesters urged the voting of the law, the dismissal of Balje as head of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights and the sanctioning of other MPs that had used hate speech in parliamentary sessions and in other public settings.

“The daily reality shows that not voting the law does not stop the IVF (in-vitro fertilization) method, it only enables private hospitals to continue financially benefiting from couples and single women,” Asllani emphasized, adding: “We believe that this service must be offered by public health institutions and be accessible to all to ensure equal protection.”

A draft law on Reproductive Health and Medically Assisted Fertilization was voted in its first reading in October 2023. The second reading was scheduled for February 22, but the vote was canceled because of a lack of quorum in the Assembly.

Korenica, an MP from the ruling Vetevendosje party, had proposed an amendment to allow the right to have children only to couples. The vote on this amendment failed because another Vetevendosje MP, Rrahmani, had not voted.

On February 22 and 23, Rrahmani wrote on Facebook that “laws such as this one that can lead to marriages of fathers with daughters, brothers with sisters… will never be supported!”

In August 2023, Radio Free Europe reported that the Gynecology Clinic of the Kosovo University Clinical Centre, “within which the IVF department would be located, is waiting for the equipment for this medical procedure. Infrastructure for the new ward has already been completed”.

Balje, head of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, has also strongly objected to the draft law.

On Thursday, the Inter-Ministerial Group Against Domestic Violence, Violence against Women and Gender-Based Violence, condemned what it called hate speech and discrimination against reproductive health and IVF.

The draft law “defines reproductive health rights including reproduction, information, education and counseling on sexual and reproductive health throughout the life cycle, safe motherhood, family planning, prevention and appropriate treatment of infertility, services for the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, as well as infections and diseases of the reproductive tract, prevention, early detection and treatment of malignant diseases of the reproductive system,” the group said.

It emphasized that the draft law is in line with the constitution, which follows “the principles of freedom, peace, democracy, equality, respect for human rights and freedoms and the rule of law, non-discrimination”, ensures “gender equality” and guarantees everyone’s right to “physical and psychological integrity”.

“The regulation of this field creates the opportunity for … safe and quality health care to be offered in the field of reproductive health, in order to preserve, promote and improve health rights, sexual and reproductive,” it added.

29/02/2024 - 14:20

29 February 2024 - 14:20

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.